Simply put, online catalogs these days should deliver the data that your customers are demanding. But with all the technological capabilities and different platforms out there, it can be difficult to assess the best deal and best fit for your organization.
There are a few features to look for in a platform that should be your non-negotiables in order to deliver the best digital customer experience possible to your customers and prospects. Let's review those four important functions that you’ll want to ask for and see in action when it comes time to choosing your dynamic online catalog platform.
1. Your Online Catalog Should Have Real-Time Functionality
Your data is important to both you and your customers, so your online catalog shouldn’t give you trouble when you need to access it.
Pricing data, parts information, and in-depth specs make it easier for distributors, repair services, and companies to select and order the products and parts they need, when they need it. An online catalog should deliver this information seamlessly using the cloud, so your customers can discover your products on their preferred devices in the field or at the office. That data also needs to be up to date.
A truly dynamic catalog uses all of the latest technology to deliver a positive digital experience to your customers so that their search is successful and they get the data they need to satisfy their sourcing needs — more on their needs in our article, "How To Meet The Needs of B2B Industrial Buyers."
Whether that’s updating information everywhere with a single click (gone are the days of emailing and mailing out spreadsheets to everyone and then trying to verify their receipt) or listing a new part option that can improve machinery lifetime, dynamic platforms help you share and download information in ways that are easier for everyone.
2. Online Catalogs Should Be Optimized For SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a significant role in any company’s ability to drive customers to multiple points across the sales funnel. When formatted correctly, an online catalog’s content vastly improves the quality of data, which Google rewards with higher search engine rankings.
Strength of content is essential to good SEO. Your online catalog should be able to provide on-page optimization of your catalog’s elements, link architecture, proper tagging and smart domain naming usage, while increasing your ranking on Google. The higher your website ranks on Google, the higher your chances of getting more website visitors.
You Can Rank Higher on Google in 30 Days
3. Functionality To Support Your Distribution Partners
A strong online catalog doesn’t just support your marketing and sales efforts — it also facilitates how your customers navigate and purchase products.
You’ll want to look for features specific to your business and your distribution partners. Some of the most common demands of online catalogs include:
- Foreign language support
- Distributor syndication
- Unit of measure handling
When you use an online platform that provides customizable templates, you’ll have a uniform experience that improves customer access to information — it's a win-win because it's not only good for your distributors and customers, but it acts as brand marketing for prospective customers too. You’ll also see time savings for customer service reps as clients make orders without having to constantly relearn layouts or regional formatting.
4. Your Online Product Catalog Should Save Resources
An online product catalog seems like an additional expense — until you realize how many hours of manual labor, resources, and web services you’re already paying for.
Digitizing your catalog means you can bring production completely in-house and cut out any printers or formatting contractors. You also save time on getting updates out to customers thanks to cloud-based publishing and delivery.
If you have an existing website, like WordPress, you can keep all your existing content while adding ecommerce capabilities across the site, and you can certainly tackle creating an online product catalog yourself — but it can get complicated. Thomas Navigator is a solution that solves your biggest product management pains by providing you with an online catalog complete with all the functionality you need from a product perspective and marketing standpoint. See how customers have saved thousands of dollars and headaches with solutions specifically built for them — OEMs, distributors, and custom manufacturers.
Ready to invest your marketing budget into a platform that helps drives customers through an easy sales and referrals? Contact us to find out what digital improvements you can make today.
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